Eric Clapton will release an entire album of covers of songs by Robert Johnson on March 23rd. Me and Mr. Johnson will feature the guitar legend's interpretations of fourteen songs by the Delta blues legend, including "Love in Vain" and "Hellhound on My Trail."
Though Clapton released a blues covers album (From the Cradle) in 1994 and made a record with B.B. King in 2000, Me and Mr. Johnson is his first full tribute to Johnson.
Still much of Clapton's career has been inspired by, and a tribute to, the doomed bluesman who died in 1938 at age twenty-seven of strychnine poisoning and was buried in an unmarked grave. Clapton was on the frontline of the British blues movement in 1965, playing with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. With Cream he scored a charting hit with a cover of Johnson's "Crossroads" in 1969, a song that would provide the title of his 1988 box set. Clapton regularly included Johnson covers in his live performances, two of which, "Walking Blues" and "Malted Milk," appeared on his 1992 Unplugged album.
"It is a remarkable thing to have been driven and influenced all of my life by the work of one man," Clapton said. "I think of it as a landmark that I navigate by, whenever I feel myself going adrift. Up until I heard his music, everything I had ever heard seemed as if it was dressed up for a shop window somewhere. At first, it scared me in its intensity, and I could only take it in small doses. I could never really get away from it, and in the end, it spoiled me for everything else."
Clapton was joined on the record guitarists Andy Fairweather Low and Doyle Bramhall II, keyboardist Billy Preston, bassist Nathan East, drummer Steve Gadd and harmonica player Jerry Portnoy.
Track listing for Me and Mr. Johnson:When You Got a Good Friend
Little Queen of Spades
They're Red Hot
Me and the Devil Blues
Traveling Riverside Blues
Last Fair Deal Gone Down
Stop Breakin' Down Blues
Milkcow's Calf Blues
Kindhearted Woman Blues
Come On in My Kitchen
If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day
Love in Vain
Hellhound on My Trail